My darling Papa lives in a very quaint little town called Velp in the Netherlands. After living abroad for more than forty years, he moved back to his home town when my Mum passed away sixteen years ago.
Papa neither drives nor rides a bicycle anymore. He walks everywhere, and takes the bus when going further afield. He organizes a shuttle service when he needs to go to the airport to visit family because the train — with luggage and several stopovers — is a little stressful in his mid eighties. He does his groceries the Euro way — getting what he needs fresh daily and cooking it that evening. He ventures out most days to get exercise and his essential cup of strong coffee in the bookstore where he reads several newspapers from cover to cover. And like his daughter, he enjoys cake, chocolate, biscuits and ice cream, and makes sure he has a good supply at home to nibble on as he listens to Dixieland Jazz.
Papa is an accountant by profession. He participates in his Home Owners Association and handles the budget and the books for his apartment block. He’s been doing this for years, and doesn’t miss a trick. His arithmetic is faster than my calculator and he never forgets a number. He’s detail-orientated and sharp. The HOA is very lucky to have him head things up.
Papa loves boats, books, bagpipes, anything naval, languages, the sea, jazz, horses and dogs. He also loves wine, Asian food, politics, chess, old movies, a good murder mystery, making Dutch pancakes, and keeping up with current affairs. He is worldly and widely read. Up until ten years ago, he also enjoyed travelling. But these days limits his travel to seeing family in London and Seattle. Our family reunion in London with my brother Hugo last year was magical, and Papa couldn’t have been happier with everyone together. Here’s a 2015 photo of the three of us in my brothers’ house about to tuck into an Indian feast of take-out. London has the best Indian food, and we always look forward to it.
I can’t think of an activity my Papa enjoys less than shopping. It’s absolute punishment to him! But he does want to look put together every day, so we’ve built casual capsules with: jeans, tucked-in button-down shirts, pullovers, jackets, coats, scarves, hats, and supportive leather shoes that match his belts. He never wears shorts, T-shirts or sneakers because he prefers dressier classics. Like most Dutch men, he’s adventurous with colours and will comfortably wear orange, turquoise, red and lime green like a neutral with denim. His entire wardrobe comes from the Gap, J.Crew, Macy’s and Nordstrom. Papa is very happy with his “uniform dressing” style because it’s easy, comfy and suits his lifestyle.
Many positive words come to mind when I think about my wonderful Papa. Independent, resourceful, tenacious, intelligent, patient, discerning, humble, careful, practical, handy, charming, gentle, generous and smiley. He grew up in the worst of times in the Netherlands right in the middle of World War II. I attribute his strength and hardy persona to these very rough circumstances. My Papa is a survivor, and absolutely incredible to be living unassisted at his age with kids who are far away. I speak to him every morning to catch up and check in that everything is okay. And each morning I am in awe of one of my favourite people in the world. I deeply respect my amazing and adorable Papa, and love him with all my heart.
We at YLF wish you a happy Father’s Day.